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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, Nov 2013  
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ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES' LABOUR FORCE OUTCOMES

Related terms
Indigenous, non-Indigenous, employed, unemployed, education, participation rate, employment to population, Year 12, certificate level, industry, region, remote


INTRODUCTION

The wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is linked to many different factors including culture, heritage, family, community, governance and health. Employment is also a key factor leading towards wellbeing. In addition to providing financial independence and raising living standards, being employed can be important for participating in society and improving physical and mental health.1 As well as the benefits to the individual, communities can also benefit from the opportunity to be part of the mainstream economy.2

There is a considerable gap between the labour force outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those of non-Indigenous Australians. In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments committed to halve the gap in employment outcomes between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2018.2

Using data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, this article explores labour force outcomes for the working aged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Labour force outcomes discussed in this article predominantly relate to labour force participation and unemployment. Participating in the labour force means that the person is employed or unemployed. The unemployment rate is the percentage of the unemployed of those participating in the labour force. There is also some discussion of the proportion of the total population that are employed (employment to population ratio).

Although not everyone in the Census reported their Indigenous or labour force status, the messages and observations about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force outcomes in this article are in line with other data sources. Further information is available in the section 'Data quality'.


PARTICIPATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT

On 9 August 2011 (Census date), 56% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people were participating in the labour force. However around one in six of these people were unemployed (17.2%).

Neither the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force participation rate or the unemployment rate compares favourably to the equivalent non-Indigenous rates. Proportionally, fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were participating in the labour force, with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force participation rate 20.5 percentage points lower than the non-Indigenous rate (55.8% compared with 76.4%). Additionally, a greater proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participating in the labour force were unemployed, with the unemployment rate more than three times higher (11.7 percentage points) than the non-Indigenous rate (17.2% compared with 5.5%).




LABOUR FORCE STATUS BY INDIGENOUS STATUS (a)(b) - 2011

Labour Force Status
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people %
Non-Indigenous people %



Employed
46.2
72.2
Unemployed
9.6
4.2
Not in the labour force
44.1
23.6
Total
100.0
100.0
Total (no.)
315 230
13 195 580
%
%
Labour force participation rate (c)
55.9
76.4
Unemployment rate (d)
17.2
5.5

(a) People aged 15-64 years of age.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was 'Not Stated'.
(c) The number of people who were either employed or unemployed (in the labour force) as a proportion of the total number of the population.

(d) The number of people who were unemployed as a proportion of the total labour force.

Source: Census of Population and Housing 2011


THE IMPACT OF AGE ON EMPLOYMENT

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has quite a different age structure to the non-Indigenous population, with younger people making up a greater proportion of its population. In 2011, around 18% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working aged people were aged 15-19, whereas just under 10% of the non-Indigenous population was of the same age group.


POPULATION BY AGE BY INDIGENOUS STATUS (a)(b), 2011

Population pyramid: shows the proportion of the population in five year age groups by Indigenous status. There is a high proportion of  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the 15-19 year age group.
(a) Number of people, by 5 year age groups, as a proportion of the population aged 15-64 years of age.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous status was '
Not Stated'.
Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing


Labour force participation is similar for many age groups

In 2011, labour force participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were quite similar for people aged 20-24 right through to those who were aged 50-54, where around three of every five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in the labour force.

Labour force participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people outside of these age groups was lower. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were aged 15-19 had a greater rate of people not in the labour force, due largely to many younger people still attending school. Beyond the age of 55, labour force participation reduced as people transitioned to retirement.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force participation followed the same general trend seen in the non-Indigenous population, however always at a significantly lower level.

Young people have a higher rate of unemployment

In general, younger people have higher rates of unemployment than other age groups. As a higher proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is within the 15-24 year age group than occurs in the non-Indigenous population, a higher proportion will fall into the age group with the highest unemployment rate. This will contribute to the higher overall unemployment rate of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people grow older, the unemployment rate decreases. In 2011, the unemployment rate was highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-19 (30.5%) and 20-24 (23.0%). Of the total number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people who were unemployed in 2011, 42% were aged 15-24, yet this age group only represented 32% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age population. This was similar to the non-Indigenous unemployed population with 36% of non-Indigenous working aged people who were unemployed being 15-24, yet the age group only represented 20% of the non-Indigenous working age population. The unemployment rate for non-Indigenous people aged 15-19 was 15.7%, and 9.4% for those aged 20-24.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AND PERCENTAGE OF THE UNEMPLOYED BY INDIGENOUS STATUS AND AGE (a), 2011


(a) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing


Adjustments can be made for differences in age structure of the two populations

As the age distribution is different between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations, this can impact on a comparison between the two populations. When this difference in population structure is taken into account (age standardisation), the gap in unemployment rates between the two populations decreases. Instead of there being an 11.7 percentage point gap in the unemployment rates between the two populations, there is a 9.9 percentage point gap.

Age differences between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations do not impact on labour force participation comparisons as much as it does for unemployment. Instead of the participation gap being 20.5 percentage points between the two populations, it is 20.0 percentage points when age distribution is taken into account.


DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN

Men represented just under half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age population (49%) in 2011, but just over half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force (53%) and employed people (52%). These results are very similar to those for the non-Indigenous population.

There were differences, however, between the composition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous unemployed and labour force populations. For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women accounted for 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people who were unemployed, whereas non-Indigenous women represented 47% of unemployed working age non-Indigenous people.

In both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous working age populations, there were more women not in the labour force than men in 2011, but the difference was less in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working population. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people, women accounted for 57% of people not in the labour force compared with 62% of the non-Indigenous working age population.

LABOUR FORCE COMPOSITION BY INDIGENOUS STATUS BY SEX (a)(b), 2011

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE
NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
Graph: shows labour force participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for men and womenGraph: shows labour force participation of non-Indigenous people for men and women

(a) People aged 15-64 years.

(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing

Participation in the labour force is different for men and women

While non-Indigenous men and women had the same unemployment rate (5.5%), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had an unemployment rate that was 2.1 percentage points lower than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men (16.1% unemployment rate for women and 18.2% for men).

While half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 15-64 were employed, there was a smaller proportion of women who were employed (43%). Both non-Indigenous men and women were more likely to be employed than not in the labour force (77% and 67% respectively employed).


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER LABOUR FORCE STATUS BY SEX (a)(b), 2011

Graph: shows the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force status by sex
(a) People aged 15-64 years.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing


One in six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working men work part-time

As with the non-Indigenous population, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women worked part-time than men. Nearly half (44%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employed women aged 15-64 worked part-time hours (less than 35 hours per week), almost double the proportion of men of the same age group (23%). While the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who worked part-time was very similar to that of non-Indigenous employed women (45%), the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who worked part-time (23%) was more than for non-Indigenous men (18%).

HOURS WORKED IN THE WEEK BEFORE CENSUS DATE(a) BY ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE BY SEX (b)(c), 2011

Graph: shows the hours worked in the week before Census date by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by sex
(a) 9 August 2011.
(b) People aged 15-64 years.

(c) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
(d) Employed people who did not work in the week before Census date.

Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing


EDUCATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Gaining an educational qualification improves the labour market and broader life prospects of young people.3 In 2011, 44% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 15-64 had attained Year 12 or Certificate level II or above, nearly 30 percentage points less than the non-Indigenous rate (73%).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had attained Year 12 or Certificate level II or above were more likely to be participating in the labour force than those who had not obtained these qualifications. More than three quarters (76%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with these qualifications were participating in the labour force, while less than half (45%) of those without them were participating.

Not only were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with these formal educational qualifications more likely to be in the labour force, they were more likely to be successful in finding employment. The unemployment rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with at least Year 12 or Certificate level II or above was 11.4%, less than half that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population without the qualification (24.3%).

Higher levels of education

For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age population who have attained an educational qualification higher than Year 12 or Certificate level II, the labour force participation and unemployment rates improve. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had completed a diploma or higher qualification, labour force participation was 83.9% and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.0%. This was one fifth of the unemployment rate of those without a Year 12 or Certificate level II.

The large gaps that exist between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations in the levels of labour force participation and unemployment lessen when comparing those who have a diploma or higher qualification. The non-Indigenous labour force participation rate for non-Indigenous people with a diploma or higher qualification was 86.4% and the unemployment rate was 3.5%.

Qualifications and working part-time

People work part-time hours for a variety of reasons, including their preference for the number of hours they want to work, and the number of hours available to work in the jobs open to them. Level of educational qualifications can also be a factor in whether they work full or part time.

People with Year 12 or Certificate level II qualifications or above were less likely to work part-time than people without these qualifications. This was true of both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations. In the week before the 2011 Census, 38% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with Year 12 or Certificate level II or above were working part-time, compared with 53% of those without these qualifications. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, 19% of those with these qualifications were working part-time, compared with 29% of those without. Overall, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had Year 12 or Certificate level II or above worked part-time, compared with 40% for those without.

PROPORTION OF POPULATION(a) WORKING PART-TIME HOURS(b) BY EDUCATION QUALIFICATION BY INDIGENOUS STATUS AND SEX(c), 2011

(a) Employed people aged 15-64 years.
(b) Worked more than 0 but less than 35 hours in the week before Census date, 9 August 2011.
(c) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was 'Not Stated'.
Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing

WHAT ARE THE MAIN INDUSTRIES OF EMPLOYMENT?

The top three industries of employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people were the health care and social assistance industry (21,160 people), public administration and safety (18,510 people) and the education and training industry (12,970 people). These three industries were also the top three industries of employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The top three industries of employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men were construction (10,560 men), public administration and safety (9,750 men) and manufacturing (7,600 men).


LEADING INDUSTRIES OF EMPLOYMENT FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE(a)(b) BY SEX, 2011

Graph: shows that the Health care and social assistance industry is the leading industry for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and Construction is the leading industry for men.

(a) People aged 15-64 years.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
Source: ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing



While the mining industry was the 10th largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it was the industry with the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its workforce (3.1%). Other industries with comparatively high proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the workforce were public administration and safety (2.8%) and arts and recreational services (2.0%).
EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES CHANGE WITH REMOTENESS

Different labour force outcomes occur in different geographic regions across Australia. For some remote areas there is a demand for labour (such as remote mining regions) and there may be higher participation and lower levels of unemployment for the population in these regions. Other remote regions have an underdeveloped labour market where people often do not actively look for work (and are therefore not classified as unemployed).4

In 2011, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people living in major cities were more likely to be in the labour force than those living elsewhere, with 61% participating. Labour force participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was lowest in remote and very remote areas: around a half were participating in the labour force. Overall, labour force participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age people declined as remoteness increased.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in major cities were also less likely to be unemployed, recording an unemployment rate of 14.7%. Outer regional areas recorded the highest unemployment rate, with around one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people unemployed.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER LABOUR FORCE RATES (a)(b) BY REMOTENESS, 2011

Labour Force Rate
Major Cities (%)
Inner Regional (%)
Outer Regional (%)
Remote (%)
Very Remote (%)
Labour force participation
61.3
55.8
53.7
51.8
48.2
Unemployment
14.7
17.6
20.4
18.2
17.9


(a) People aged 15-64 years.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
Source: Census of Population and Housing 2011

Is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment changing?
There has been little apparent change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment and labour force participation since 2006. Nationally, Census 2011 participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people decreased by 1.0 percentage point from the levels recorded in Census 2006. Only major cities recorded a higher participation rate (0.6 percentage points) in 2011 compared with 2006. Declining participation and increasing unemployment in outer regional, remote and very remote areas coincide with the phasing out of Community Development and Employment Projects (CDEP) programs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the labour force in major cities and inner regional areas had slightly better prospects of being employed in 2011 compared with 2006. Unemployment rates increased in 2011 for all other areas, particularly in very remote areas. These changes contributed to a national unemployment rate increase of 1.5 percentage points for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER LABOUR FORCE RATE CHANGES (a)(b) BY REMOTENESS

Labour Force Rates

Major Cities %
Inner Regional %
Outer Regional %
Remote %
Very Remote %
Australia %
Unemployment

2011

14.7
17.6
20.4
18.2
17.9
17.2
2006
15.2
18.6
17.7
14.6
10.2
15.6
Change
-0.5
-1.0
+2.7
+3.7
+7.7
+1.5

Labour Force Participation

2011

61.3
55.8
53.7
51.8
48.2
55.9
2006
60.7
56.3
55.0
53.4
53.7
56.8
Change
+0.6
-0.5
-1.3
-1.6
-5.5
-0.9


(a) People aged 15-64 years.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
Sources: ABS Censuses of Population and Housing 2006 and 2011

INDIGENOUS REGIONS AND THEIR DIFFERENT STORIES

When looking at the geographic distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Indigenous Regions can be used. They are often used in Census reporting and can provide smaller geographic area information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Regions show a wide range of labour force outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the diversity of which remoteness areas or jurisdiction reporting often do not reveal.

INDIGENOUS REGIONS OF AUSTRALIA(a), 2011
Map: shows the Indigenous regions of Australia.

(a) Excludes 'Other Territories' where Indigenous Region population is less than 1,000 people.
Source:
Australian Statistical Geographical Standard 2011 (ABS cat. no. 1270.0.55.001)


A wide range of employment outcomes throughout Australia

While unemployment rates inform about the prospects of successfully finding employment when looking for a job and labour force participation helps to understand the amount of people who are either looking for work or are employed, the proportion of employed people in the population (employment to population ratio) provides an informative summary of labour force outcomes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' employment outcomes remain below that of the non-Indigenous population. Taking a closer look at smaller area data such as provided through Indigenous Regions suggests there are many different labour force conditions. Areas where labour force participation is higher will generally have proportionally more of the population working.

In August 2011, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Indigenous Region had the highest labour force participation rate (70.2%) and the second lowest unemployment rate (9.3%) while the Torres Strait Indigenous Region in Queensland had the lowest unemployment rate (7.7%) and second highest labour force participation (68.3%) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. While it may be expected that a region such as the ACT (including Canberra) will record such results, the Torres Strait Island Indigenous Region's strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment outcome occurred in very remote Australia.

The unemployment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Indigenous Regions varied by 21 percentage points, with the highest unemployment rate of 28.7% in the Cairns-Atherton Indigenous region and the lowest rate of 7.7% in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region, both in north Queensland. Across the Indigenous Regions, the lowest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment rate was higher than the highest non-Indigenous unemployment rate (6.6% NSW Central and North Coast).

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER LABOUR FORCE RATE RANGES (a)(b) BY INDIGENOUS REGIONS (c), 2011


Indigenous Region with Highest Rate %
Indigenous Region with Lowest Rate %
Difference
(Percentage Points)



Unemployment Rate
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Cairns-Atherton (28.7)
Torres Strait (7.7)
21.0
Non-Indigenous
NSW Central &North Coast (6.6)
Apatula (0.8)
5.8
Labour Force Participation Rate
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Australian Capital Territory (70.2)
Apatula (35.8)
34.4
Non-Indigenous
Tennant Creek (91.4)
West Kimberley (49.7)
41.7
Employment to Population Ratio
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Australian Capital Territory (63.8)
Apatula (26.9)
38.9
Non-Indigenous
Tennant Creek (90.1)
West Kimberley (48.8)
41.3


(a) People aged 15-64 years.
(b) Excludes those whose Indigenous and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
(
c) Excludes 'Other Territories'.
Sources: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2011

Low unemployment rates do not mean high labour force participation rates

Low unemployment and low labour force participation can occur at the same time in remote areas with underdeveloped labour markets. People without a job may not look for work because job opportunities are scarce, therefore excluding themselves from participating in the labour force (and consequently lowering the labour force participation rate). In August 2011, the West Kimberley Indigenous Region in Western Australia was one such remote area where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment (9.5%) was well below the national rate, but the labour force participation rate (48.2%) was also below the national rate. However, with non-Indigenous labour force participation at 49.7%, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force participation was indicative of the participation for the whole population in the region.

Overall, 43.8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the West Kimberley Indigenous Region were employed and 48.8% of the non-Indigenous population. While these employment to population ratios were well below the ACT and Torres Strait Indigenous Regions, the 5 percentage point difference was the smallest employment to population ratio gap of all Indigenous Regions. The next closest was the Tasmania Indigenous region where for every 100 people, around 14 more non-Indigenous people were employed than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

PERCENTAGE OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER POPULATION IN EACH INDIGENOUS REGION WHO WERE EMPLOYED(a)(b)(c)(d), 2011

Map: shows the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population in each Indigenous region who were employed.
(a) Employment to population ratio.
(b) People aged 15-64 years.

(c) Excludes those whose Indigenous status and/or labour force status was '
Not Stated'.
(d) Excludes 'Other Territories'.
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011


LOOKING AHEAD

Many businesses now include a strategy for employment and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.5 With these strategies in place, initiatives such as the Remote Jobs and Communities Program, and the establishment of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council6, may help put a focus on employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

While labour force participation and unemployment rate gaps between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remained in the 2011 Census of Population and Housing findings, there are positive signs for the future. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force outcomes improve as they attain Year 12, Certificate level II and higher levels of educational attainment. The Council of Australian Governments has committed to halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievement by 2018, and with increased educational attainment better opportunities for employment should arise.

ADDITIONAL TOPICS
DATA QUALITY

The 2011 estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 15-64 is 406,579 people.7 However, this article uses information from the 315,230 working age Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who provided their labour force status and also identified themselves as of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin in the Census. Therefore, around 22% of the estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander working age population are not included in the analysis. The omission of the estimated 22% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the above analysis means that the rates presented may be different to those of the complete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

However, the 315,230 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander records with labour force status represent the largest single data source of information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force outcomes. Even though there is uncertainty about the precision of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander labour force outcomes, the rates in this article are considered representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force outcomes and the data accords with the understandings acquired through other data sources available such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey 2008 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004/05.

The large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's records in the Census allows a degree of analysis to be done for smaller geographic areas such as Indigenous Regions. The precision of this labour force information at this smaller geographic level has greater uncertainty with the estimated under-count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not known at lower levels of geography. Therefore the completeness of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population for Indigenous Regions is not known and may vary between Indigenous Regions. While the precision of labour force outcomes is not known, the information provided is considered to be of strong enough quality to support the conclusion about the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force outcomes for smaller geographic regions.

For information about the under-count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people in the Census please refer to Census of Population and Housing - Details of Undercount, 2011 (cat. no. 2940.0). For information about the rates of 'Not Stated' for specific questions asked in the Census, that is where a person completed the Census and did not answer a specific question, please refer to the Census Portal. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates of 'Not Stated' contained within the Census Portal are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population rates. Rates of 'Not Stated' may vary for different reports, for example, while the national non-response rate to the Labour Force Status question for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 4.9%, in very remote areas the rate was 7.1%.
2006 AND 2011 ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CENSUS COUNTS

In 2006, there were 455,208 people identified as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin and counted in the Census, and in 2011 this number increased to 548,370, an increase of 20.5%. While an increase in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was to be expected due to natural increase, some of the change will be due to a greater propensity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to identify as such in the 2011 Census, while other parts of the increase will be due to collection strategies in the Census to improve the coverage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

More information about the change between the 2006 and 2011 Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is provided in the ABS Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts between 2006 and 2011 (First Issue) (cat. no. 2077.0). For more information about factors that may impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people identifying in collections, please refer to ABS Information Paper: Perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification in Selected Data Collection Contexts, 2012 (cat. no. 4726.0).

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT EMPLOYMENT PROJECT (CDEP) SCHEME

The CDEP scheme aimed to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander job seekers to gain the skills, training and capabilities needed to find sustainable employment.8 Considerable changes have occurred to the CDEP scheme since the 2006 Census count occurred. The Government reviewed remote employment services and in July 2013 the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) was created to facilitate employment in remote areas. The RCJP replaces and builds on the strengths of Job Services Australia, Disability Employment Services, CDEP and the Indigenous Employment Program.8

According to program administration data, there were 32,589 CDEP participants in mid-2006, reducing to 10,644 CDEP participants in mid-2011.9 This represents a decline of almost 22,000 CDEP participants across Australia between 2006 and 2011.

However, due to a combination of Census collection methodologies regarding CDEP only being collected in some remote areas and uncertainty about how CDEP participants may be recording their CDEP and employment status, the Census records very different results. The 2006 Census counted 14,497 CDEP participants and the 2011 Census counted 5,005 CDEP participants. This represents a decline of 9,492 CDEP participants – less than half of the actual decline in CDEP participation between 2006 and 2011.

In both the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, people who reported participating in CDEP were included as being employed. Labour force comparisons between 2006 and 2011 may be adversely impacted by the phasing out of CDEP to the extent that some CDEP participants recorded in the Census in 2006 are no longer CDEP participants in 2011 and are either unemployed or not in the labour force.


EXPLANATORY INFORMATION

DATA SOURCES AND DEFINITIONS

This article uses data from the 2006 and 2011 Censuses of Population and Housing, held on 8 August 2006 and 9 August 2011. The standard working age range of 15-64 was used to be comparable with analysis done elsewhere on the working population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are Australia's first peoples. The Commonwealth defines an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person as a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives. In statistical collections and most administrative collections, it is not feasible to collect information on the community acceptance component of the nominal definition. Therefore, the community acceptance criterion is not included in the operational definition. The operational definition of Indigenous status is 'Indigenous status indicates whether or not a person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin'.

Employed A person is employed if they reported that they had worked, either full-time or part-time (fewer than 35 hours per week), in a job, business or farm during the week prior to Census date; or that they had a job in the week prior to Census date, but were not at work.

Unemployed A person is unemployed if they were not employed during the week prior to Census date and:
• had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the week prior to Census date; and
• were available for work in the week prior to Census date.

Not in the labour force A person who was neither employed nor unemployed in the week prior to Census date.

Employment to population ratio The number of employed people, expressed as a percentage of the population of that group of people. In this article, those people who did not state their Indigenous status were excluded.

Labour force participation rate The number of people in the labour force (either employed or unemployed), expressed as a percentage of the population of that group of people. In this article, those people who did not state their Indigenous status were excluded.

Unemployment rate The number of unemployed as a percentage of the total labour force.

Part-time and full-time hours and rates People working part-time hours in this article are those who worked below 35 hours but above 0 hours in the week before the Census. People working full-time hours include those who worked above 35 hours in the week before the Census. Those who worked 0 hours are classified as neither full-time, nor part-time.

The rate of part-time people is the total number of people who worked part-time as a percentage of the total population who stated the number of hours they worked in the last week (including those who worked 0 hours). The rate of full-time people is the total number of people who worked fulltime as a percentage of the total population who stated the number of hours they worked in the last week (including those who worked 0 hours).

Age standardisation Age standardisation removes the effect of age in comparisons between groups which have different age structures. The use of age standardised data means that any differences between the two populations is not due to different age structures. The 2001 Estimated Resident Population has been used as the standard population.

Year 12 or Certificate level II or above in this article refers to whether a person has attained a Year 12 Certificate or equivalent or Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate Level II or above. The skill levels in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classifications (ANZSCO) are defined in terms of formal education and training, previous experience and on-the-job-training. In Australia, the formal education and training component is measured in terms of educational qualifications as set out in the Australian Qualifications Framework (the AQF). Appendix B of the ABS ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, Revision 1 (cat. no. 1220.0) outlines the AQF in practise at the time of the development of ANZSCO. Guidelines for each AQF qualification are provided in the AQF Implementation Handbook (2002) or by visiting the AQF website.

Industry The industrial classification provides a standard framework under which business units carrying out similar productive activities can be grouped together, with each resultant group referred to as an industry. Details about industry classifications are provided in the ABS Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 1.0) (cat. no. 1292.0).

Remoteness Area (RA) Remoteness is determined by measuring the road distance to different classes of service centres. Different non-contiguous geographic areas which share common characteristics of remoteness are then grouped together into six categories of remoteness areas: Major Cities, Inner Regional, Outer Regional, Remote, Very Remote and Migratory. Remoteness is measured nationally, not all Remoteness Areas are represented in each state or territory. This article focuses on five of the six remoteness areas and excludes 'Migratory' Remoteness Areas. Details about Remoteness areas are provided in the ABS Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.055).

Indigenous Region The Indigenous Structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) provides a geographical standard for the publication of statistics about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia. It has been designed for the purpose of disseminating Census data by spatial areas relevant to the distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Details about Indigenous Regions are provided in the ABS Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Volume 2 - Indigenous Structure, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.002).

There are 57 Indigenous Regions in Australia. This article focuses on 37 Indigenous Regions and excludes Indigenous Regions that have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of less than 1,000 people ('Other Territories') or are categorised as 'Migratory - Offshore - Shipping' or 'No Usual Address'.

ENDNOTES

1. Council of Australian Governments, National Disability Strategy, 2010 - 2020, pg. 42, viewed 18 November 2013 <www.dss.gov.au>

2. The National Indigenous Reform Agreement, viewed 30 October 2013, <www.coag.gov.au>

3. Foundation for Young Australians, 2012. 'How Young People Are Faring 2012', viewed 30 October 2013, <www.fya.gov.au>

4. ABS 2011, Labour Force Characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Estimates from the Labour Force Survey, cat. no. 6287.0, <www.abs.gov.au>

5. Business Council of Australia, 2012. 'One country, many voices: BCA 2012 Indigenous Engagement Survey', viewed 4 November 2013, <www.bca.com.au>

6. Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, "Establishment of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council", viewed 4 November 2013. <www.pm.gov.au>

7. ABS 2013, Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2011, cat. no. 3238.0.55.001, <www.abs.gov.au>

8. Department of Social Services, 2011. 'Community Development Employment Projects Participant Supplement', viewed 11 November 2013, <www.dss.gov.au>

9. Closing the Gap: Prime Minister’s Report 2013, viewed 31 October 2013, <www.dss.gov.au>



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